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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, according to analysis done by Garden State Initiative this year nearly $2.6 billion in pension payments, almost 25% of all payments, will be headed out of state, two and a half times the national rate.

GSI says ,”As of July 1, 2019, a total of 332,556 retirees were collecting pension payments from the state, with monthly payments totaling nearly $950 million, or over $11 billion annually.”

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How N.J.’s public pension investments performed compared to U.S.

Person dumping money into a toilet bowl

By Samantha Marcus | NJ Advance Media for
on April 13, 2017 at 8:15 AM, updated April 13, 2017 at 8:51 AM

TRENTON — State-run government pension funds spent $10 billion on fees and performance bonuses in 2014 to private managers of their alternative investments, a strategy that has stirred controversy in New Jersey.

The report from the Pew Charitable Trusts found that the 73 largest state and local public pension funds invested about half their assets in stocks, a quarter in bonds and cash, and a quarter in such alternative investments as hedge funds, real estate and private equity.

New Jersey’s portfolio at the time varied only slightly from that typical makeup, with 45 percent of its assets in equities, 28 percent in fixed income and 27 percent in alternatives.

Two of the 73 funds didn’t invest in alternatives, while 21 had at least 30 percent of their assets invested in them and five had at least 40 percent invested.

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US Supreme Court declines to hear case about NJ pensions

“Cadillac” health plan

N.J. public employee unions irked by Christie call to cut health benefits

Gov. Chris Christie’s budget address came with a public challenge to cut $250 million from state employees’ health benefits. Samantha Marcus, Read more

US Supreme Court declines to hear case about NJ pensions


The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to rule on a major case involving payments to New Jersey’s pension system for public employees.

The case concerned Governor Christie’s decision to cut billions of dollars in payments he had once promised for the retirement system.

Christie began to cut those payments in 2014 despite signing laws in his first term that pledged more than $16 billion over seven years for the troubled retirement system.

Public worker unions sued, arguing that Christie and the state Legislature could not skip the higher payments. The New Jersey Supreme Court disagreed, ruling 5-2 in June that the seven-year plan was not legally binding.

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Slight Hike in Tax Revenue Adds Up to Surplus For State



Gov. Chris Christie is scheduled to present his next state budget to lawmakers in less than two weeks. And it looks like he’ll be able to deliver that address feeling some confidence about how his spending plan for the current fiscal year is holding up. John Reitmeyer, NJSpotlight Read more

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Dead last: NJ debt hits $52,300 per taxpayer, study shows


By Mark Lagerkvist  /   September 17, 2015

New Jersey ranks worst in the country for state debt, according to a new nationwide study.

Each state taxpayer would need to pay $52,300 to erase New Jersey’s existing bills — including public pensions and retiree health benefits — reports Truth in Accounting, a think tank in Chicago.

Among “sinkhole states,” New Jersey was followed by Connecticut, $48,600 debt burden per taxpayer; Illinois, $45,000; Kentucky, $32,600; and Massachusetts, $27,400.

In the past year, the debt per taxpayer in New Jersey increased by $16,300, or 45 percent, according to the nonprofit.

The findings are consistent with a New Jersey Watchdog analysis of State Treasury records that found the Garden State’s pension and health benefit deficit for public workers is nearing $200 billion.

Earlier this week, New Jersey Watchdog reported:

New Jersey’s public pensions are underfunded by $113.1 billion. The state bears $80.5 billion of that burden. Local governments are responsible for the remaining $32.6 billion.
State and local governments are also on the hook for $81.4 billion in unfunded health benefits for retired and active workers. The state owes $65 billion; the local share is $16.4 billion.
The total shortfall is $194.5 billion – more than $60,000 per household. The figure is nearly six times higher than New Jersey’s total annual budget, currently $33.8 billion.

At the present pace, those unfunded liabilities will exceed $210 billion next year.

In its report, Truth in Accounting reported states have a combined total of $1.3 trillion in debt despite balanced budget requirements in 49 states.

The lack of truthful, timely and transparent financial information is increasing cynicism and mistrust and it is a risk for our representative form of government,” said Shelia Weinberg, CEO of Truth in Accounting. “Citizens do not have the information need to hold their politician accountable, much less cast an informed vote.”

The full study is scheduled for release next week.

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Blame Game on Pensions in New Jersey


Blame Game on Pensions in New Jersey

When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced his decision last week to forgo $2.4 billion in state pension payments over the next two years, he blamed his recent predecessors for leaving him a system deep in debt.

Those predecessors have different views. While some take at least part of the responsibility for the looming shortfalls, they also blame each other and Mr. Christie. They said they did what they thought was best at the time, even if they are now concerned about the state’s fiscal health.

“Everybody has to take the blame for this,” said former Gov. Donald DiFrancesco, a Republican.

The state’s pension is currently underfunded by almost $40 billion, and that could rise to $46 billion by 2019, according to a state report.

Faced with a state budget shortfall of almost $3 billion between now and 2015, Mr. Christie last week announced that he would do what many former governors have done: He kicked pension obligations down the road in favor of immediate budget priorities.

The Republican cast his decision as a choice between reducing services and raising taxes, both of which he said he was unwilling to do. Either move could potentially drain his political capital at the national level, at a time when he is struggling to put the George Washington Bridge scandal behind him.

After his decision, the system’s deficit could rise from about $38 billion to $46 billion by 2019, according to a state report, higher than when he took office.

Calling out his predecessors for not paying more into the system, Mr. Christie said his current problems stem from “sins of the past.” (Dawsey and Haddon/Wall Street Journal)